Mohler to SBTS graduates: Celebrate divine calling as God’s messengers

Southern Seminary President R. Albert Mohler Jr. delivers the address at the May 19 commencement ceremony on the seminary lawn.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (SBTS) — Ministers of the gospel are not partakers in a career, but recipients of a divine calling, said President R. Albert Mohler Jr. in his May 19 commencement address to the 2017 graduates of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

During 219th commencement exercises on the seminary lawn, 318 master’s and doctoral students received degrees. A week earlier, 149 Boyce College students graduated, and the combined 467 degrees conferred to Southern and Boyce students represents the largest commencement in Southern Seminary’s history.

“At every Southern Seminary graduation we remind one another of the great and essential fact that the Christian ministry is not a mere profession — it is a divine calling,” said Mohler. “The ministry is one of Christ’s gifts to his church. It is among the most serious — and indeed the most serious — and joyous of all callings.”


Piper to Boyce College grads: Embrace life of self-denial

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (SBTS) — College graduates must reject a life of ease, comfort, and material possessions, and embrace the cross-bearing challenges of the Christian life, said John Piper at the May 12 commencement of Boyce College, the undergraduate school of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Piper, whose daughter Talitha was among the 147 graduates, is the first person from outside the Southern Seminary community to give the commencement address at a Boyce College graduation.

John Piper preaches during Boyce College commencement, May 12. Piper's daughter, Talitha, was among the graduates.

In Piper’s address, the well-known preacher and founder of Desiring God Ministries said Christians face a lifelong battle between two competing foundational philosophies, or two opposings selves. This “sacred schizophrenia,” according to Piper, forces believers to fight their “false self” that grapples for personal fame, glory, possessions, power, and comfort. The true self, however, exhibits self-denial and a Godward focus.

“The denying self loves real life that lasts forever, loves Jesus as all-satisfying, loves meaning more than money, loves the praise of holy heaven more than the praise of sinful earth,” Piper said, drawing on Jesus’ lessons about true discipleship in Mark 8:34-38. “The denying self is the true you.”


SWI Gala reveals ‘eternal fruit’ of Southern Seminary program

The May 4 gala for SWI featured current and former instructors, alumni, and students.

Alumni and students gathered to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Seminary Wives Institute at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary with a May 4 gala. The event featured testimonies from graduates from 1999 to 2017, representing ministries from all over the world. Each testimony revealed the eternal impact of SWI from Louisville to Zimbabwe.

The history of SWI dates back to Feb. 5, 1997, when Mary Mohler hosted some of the faculty wives to discuss interest in creating a new program to train seminary wives. On May 8, 1997, 85 women attended an informational meeting for prospective students. The result of that meeting launched the SWI program in fall 1997 with 125 students and the vision of Mohler and three co-founders: Sharon Beougher, who still serves as an SWI faculty member; Virginia Walker; and Menda Sue Hatfield.

“People showed up; classes started,” Mohler said at the gala. “And we were on a roll and things were going well, but we needed help … and the Lord so kindly grew this faculty as he grew Southern Seminary’s faculty. And so as my husband’s hiring these wonderful new faculty members, wives were coming along with them, and the amazing fact is God in all this was bringing faculty wives who had an interest in helping us, and each had an interest that was not already being covered.”
Notable SWI faculty who helped set the foundation for the program include Tanya York, who came in 1997; Jodi Ware, 1998; Katherine Magnuson, 1999; Jaylynn Cook, 2000; Nora Allison, 2003; and Caffy Whitney, 2005.


Southern Seminary’s Giving Days raise $300K, alumni share testimonials

Social media testimonials and a community service project comprised the first-ever Giving Days event to raise over $300,000 for The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, April 20-23. The weekend gave students, alumni, donors, and faculty the opportunity to tell their stories, support the institution financially, and serve the community of Louisville.

Students, faculty, and alumni shared their stories through social media for Tell Day on April 20. Several notable figures in the Southern Baptist Convention recorded testimonies during Tell Day, including Mark Dever, Kevin Ezell, Greg Gilbert, Eric Geiger, and Southern Seminary President R. Albert Mohler Jr.


West Louisville pastor receives Francisco Preaching Award at SBTS


Larry Sykes Jr., M.Div. student and pastor of Greater Good Hope Baptist Church, preaches during Southern Seminary's awards chapel service April 27.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (SBTS) — The comfort of Scripture and promises of God are necessary to sustain pastors through the trials of ministry, said Larry Sykes Jr., Clyde T. Francisco Preaching Award recipient, during an April 27 chapel service at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

“The difficulties you may face in ministry may be so daunting they may make you question God’s choice to even call you and send you at all,” said Sykes, pastor of Greater Good Hope Baptist Church in Louisville’s Parkland neighborhood. “You are going to go out of here and minister to a culture that is dilapidated and decaying. ... You can take comfort in Scripture.”


Gov. Bevin appoints Dumas to overhaul Kentucky’s adoption and foster care system

Daniel S. Dumas, his wife Jane, and their two adopted sons, Aiden and Elijah.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (SBTS) — Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin announced May 3 the appointment of Daniel S. Dumas, senior vice president for institutional administration at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, to lead a transformation of the state’s adoption and foster care system, effective June 19.

“There is no reason a child in Kentucky, who is ready to be adopted, should be without a family. We have to rethink the way we do foster care in this state, and Dan Dumas is just the visionary to help lead that charge. Dan is a servant leader, and his proven track record of excellence in innovation will help us cut through the red tape currently keeping 8,000 of Kentucky’s foster children from their forever families,” Bevin said.

In his role at Southern Seminary since 2008, Dumas has led the institution’s strategic initiatives, building projects and renovations, and budget expansion. He has also taught Christian leadership courses and written or edited several books, including Live Smart and Guide to Biblical Manhood.

“Dan Dumas has made an invaluable contribution to Southern Seminary as senior vice president for Institutional Administration. I am thankful for his decade of service and for his commitment to our mission,” said Southern Seminary President R. Albert Mohler Jr.

“Dan is a great leader, and he has a tremendous heart for service and ministry. He will be greatly missed in this key leadership capacity at Southern Seminary. I congratulate both Governor Bevin and Dan Dumas on this announcement,” Mohler said.


1937 Project volunteers provide hope and gospel conversations

Kevin Jones, assistant professor of teacher education at Boyce College, vacuums the sanctuary of No More Limits Church, which meets in a century-old church building in the west Louisville neighborhood of Shawnee.

Despite inclement weather, 400 volunteers from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and Boyce College participated in the fifth annual 1937 Project, April 22. The event commemorates the school’s relief efforts in the Great Flood of 1937, when the Ohio River rose to more than 50 feet, creating one of the worst floods in American history.

“The phrase that keeps coming to mind about [the 1937 Project] is ‘the favor of the Lord,’” Pierre wrote in a Student Life e-newsletter. “We made contact with many fellow volunteers, neighborhood residents, and city workers. We had many gospel conversations. One person even professed Christ as Lord and is seeking fellowship at a great neighborhood church. This is the wonder of serving.”

10-year-old Jennifer, daughter of SBTS marketing director Laurie Taylor, rakes leaves as part of the Shawnee Neighborhood Cleanup.

According to Southern Seminary’s Student Life Office, volunteers logged about 1,200 community engagement hours throughout the city, including projects at Scarlet Hope, Oxmoor Lodge Retirement Home, Louisville Rescue Mission, Keystone Learning Academy, and Portland Promise Center. The mayor’s office assigned the seminary community to two specific projects — Smoketown Neighborhood Cleanup and Shawnee Neighborhood Cleanup — where about 300 people disbursed to pick up trash and share the love of Christ with residents.

As part of the cleanup in the Shawnee neighborhood, Boyce professor Kevin Jones led a group to work on a century-old church building that recently became the home of No More Limits Church, pastored by Emery Scott Lee. Affected by water damage and years of vandalism, the church was almost “completely destroyed,” Jones said. Despite the damage, Lee still had hope.

Pastor Lee’s “vision is that the church will become a beacon of light in the Shawnee neighborhood. His hope is that his church will be a place where the gospel will be fully displayed,” Jones said.

Volunteers offered spiritual encouragement, and Jones said praying for one another was “probably the highlight of our time spent.”

“Pastor Lee prayed for our institution, volunteers, and the Body of Christ. In turn, I prayed specifically for him, his church, his family, and the community,” Jones said. “Myself and the other volunteers with our team look forward to a continued relationship with Pastor Lee. The goal is to make a continued difference, not an annual event. We will meet with him this summer to strategize ways for of collaboration.”

The 1937 Project joins with Mayor Greg Fischer’s Give A Day week of service. Fischer spoke to volunteers during the morning rally before they were sent out to various project sites. The mayor encouraged volunteers and remarked how Southern Seminary has been essential to accomplishing his plans for making Louisville a compassionate city.

“In all the craziness of the weather that morning, Mayor Greg Fischer expressed privately how shocked he was at the incredible turnout,” Pierre wrote.

The 1937 Project was part of Southern Seminary’s first ever Giving Days, a four-day initiative April 20-23 aimed at supporting the mission of the institution providing students, alumni, donors, and faculty the opportunity to tell their stories, support the institution financially, and serve the community of Louisville.



‘Step out of your comfort zones’ for foster care, Glenna Bevin tells SBTS Woman’s Auxiliary


Glenna Bevin, Kentucky's first lady, speaks at the April 24 Woman's Auxiliary luncheon on her passion for adoption and foster care.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (SBTS) — Kentucky First Lady Glenna Bevin urged 300 attendees during an April 24 Woman’s Auxiliary luncheon at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary to step out of their comfort zones and get involved with foster care and adoption. Glenna and her husband, Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin, have adopted four children from Ethiopia and have pledged to improve the state’s foster care system.

“Our state is on the precipice,” she said. “It will be lost if we don’t step up. There is much work to be done in our own backyards.”


Don’t compromise the gospel in social cooperation, says Mohler at TGC workshop

Evangelical Christians must not compromise the gospel when cooperating with Catholics on social and political matters, said R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, at The Gospel Coalition National Conference on the Protestant Reformation.

R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, speaks at a workshop during The Gospel Coalition National Conference, April 4.

Evangelicals partnering with other groups in shared matters of social concern is often necessary — such as with Catholics in the pro-life movement — but should never eclipse the importance of doctrinal differences between the two.

"We can be involved in common moral concerns with Catholics, but we should not call what we are doing a ministry,” said Mohler during his April 4 workshop titled “When to Stand Together, When to Stand Apart: Principles for Social Cooperation without Compromise.”


Gaines calls for prayer to be ‘priority’ of Southern Baptists at SBTS chapel

Southern Baptist Convention President Steve Gaines preaching on the priority of prayer at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary’s April 11 chapel service.

Southern Baptists should prioritize prayer for unity and evangelism, said Southern Baptist Convention President Steve Gaines at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary’s April 11 chapel service.

“I’m praying that the priority of the Southern Baptist Convention [is] that we will become literally a house of prayer. I’m praying that when people think about the Southern Baptist Convention the very first thing they will think of is this: That’s the group of folks, those are the folks that pray,” Gaines said.

Examining the method of the early church, Gaines explained 10 truths about the importance of prayer from Acts 4:23-31. Gaines said the early church provides an example of how prayer reveals the intimacy of a Christian’s relationship to God. People talk with and about those whom they love, and prayer is one way Christians talk with God, he said. The book of Acts is about people praying to God and sharing Scripture with others.

“Everywhere they went, they prayed and they witnessed,” said Gaines, senior pastor of Bellevue Baptist Church in Memphis, Tennessee. “They loved the Lord. And so just naturally, out of their lives flowed prayer toward the Lord and evangelism and witnessing toward other people.”